Families of Plymouth rampage victims demand to know why shooter was given back gun

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Callous Jake Davison, 22, went on a terrifying rampage, executing five innocent civilians and his mum Maxine Davison, 51, after an argument with her on August 12

Jake Davison murdered five innocent people after going on a shooting rampage in Plymouth in August
Jake Davison murdered five innocent people after going on a shooting rampage in Plymouth in August

The families of five people gunned down by Jake Davison are demanding to know why he was given back his firearm after it was confiscated by police a month earlier, an inquest heard today.

Evil Davison began his devastating rampage in Plymouth when he killed his mother Maxine Davison, 51, following an argument with her on August 12, the coroner was told.

In the minutes that followed Davison, 22, an apprentice crane operator, shot dead strangers Sophie Martyn, three, and her father Lee Martyn, 43, on the street.

He then killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting Katherine Shepherd, 66, who later died at Derriford Hospital.

Among the victims were little girl Sophie Martyn, three, and her dad Lee, 43

He also shot and wounded a 33-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman before turning the gun on himself and ending his own life.

One gross misconduct notice has been served on one member of staff at Devon and Cornwall Police’s Firearms Licensing Department, LBC reported today.

At an inquest management hearing today senior coroner Ian Arrow said he would be separating hearings for the victims and the assailant to “preserve their dignity”.

And he was also told disciplinary investigations by the IOPC were continuing and no decision over what action should be taken against individuals had been made.

The hearing at Plymouth Coroner’s Court was attended by family members of all the victims and their representative Dominic Adamson said they shared concerns over how the killer was allowed to legally own a firearm.

These were heightened after it was revealed his gun was confiscated following an accusation of assault – but given back to him just a month before the shootings.

The families of the fatal victims have asked why cruel Davison was allowed to be in possession of a firearm

The IOPC had previously confirmed it had issued a gross misconduct notice to a member of police staff and a misconduct notice to a police officer.

And a spokesperson told the inquest hearing today that a disciplinary probe was continuing into the role of police staff amid concern from the families involved.

Mr Arrow said: “I have a useful note from Dominic Adamson, who is the representative of the majority of the families, about their areas of concern.

“They are concerned about the possession of the shotgun and the manner of which the pathfinder scheme was worked.”

Davison killed his mother after a row before turning his gun on random strangers and then himself

Mr Arrow said one of his roles was to issue a report to prevent future deaths.

He added: “I will receive evidence from a number of different services and a number of different ones are ongoing. These will be reviewed shortly for family and various representatives.”

Mr Arrow added that the inquests of the victims and the assailant were being separated.

He said: “To preserve the dignity of the families, my resolution is to put them first in this case. I will do two separate reviews. One for the families this morning and one for Jake Davison this afternoon.

“I can see the merit in separating those two.”

Mel Palmer, on behalf of the IOPC, said they had recently had two lines of enquiry.

These were Jake Davison’s possession of the shotgun and the pathfinder scheme.

Inquests are currently taking place

She said they hoped to be able to provide a final report and decision on a number of factors, including potential disciplinary action, early in the new year.

She added: “We are waiting for a number of comments from other parties we have no control over. I will be surprised if we are not able to get it by the end of January.”

When asked by the coroner if the report could lead to disciplinary measures, she added: “It is not a straight forward matter and is premature to offer a view.”

She said the issues involved a number of police staff, rather than officers, which don’t fall under police regulations so should be “much faster to list.”

Det Chief Insp Rachel Bentley said Devon and Cornwall Police were in a very similar position and had only six statements outstanding.

She added: “We are relying on other agencies. But the majority of the work is back with me.”

She said they were waiting on a technical specialist statement from ballistic worker and family court records in relation to Jake Davison.

She added: “We have now managed to access the phone belonging to Mr Davison and this is now with a third party service provider. We expect it back within the next four weeks and to report by the end of February.”

The coroner was also told that Davison’s GP had declined to give information as they “did not feel in a position to be qualified on the personality of a patient to say whether or not they were safe to hold a gun licence.”

Among the other organisations carrying out on-going reviews are the child death review panel, the domestic homicide review scheme and the Home Office.

Mr Arrow adjourned the inquest of the five victims until March next year.

He added: “I am going to adjourn until 15 March and there will likely be further hearing even after that. Due to the nature of this case, it is going to take some management time.”

An earlier inquest opening had heard Maxine, a former trawler woman, was shot in the torso and head following an argument with her son” at 17 Biddick Drive.

Lee Martyn, a carpenter by trade, was also shot dead along with his daughter Sophie while they were out walking the family dog.

Stephen Washington, who was married and a carer for his wife, was also walking his dog when he was shot in the chest.

Katherine Shephard, who was married and an artist by occupation, was shot in the abdomen while walking along Henderson place.

The inquest management hearing for Jake Davison is due to take place this afternoon (Thurs) from 2pm.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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